I kid you not, I am known to carry many fluffy blankets, comforters, pillows on visits to friend's homes because I am and have always been, "The Princess and the Pea."
I am unbelievably sensitive to beds and they can make or break my soul when it comes to bedtime.
TRADITIONAL MATTRESS/BOX SPRINGS
When I sought out the perfect mattress, it was trial and error all my life. When I was first married, I was 21 and even though I was young, I was a skinny model and my hips and elbows bruised sleeping on my side in a standard mattress.
The traditional bed wore out in spots, had to be flipped around often, and generally became hot, lumpy, and miserable. The box springs added a whole level of nastiness.
I would rather go with a traditional mattress and a plank and beam style frame.
Later, when I got pregnant, I had a waterbed. It is very wakeful when you roll over in a waterbed, as you feel as if you were rolled off the deck of a ship in mid nap. The wakes take a while to settle down and climbing in and out of it was a hard task. As well, the water didn't provide any support at all.
Luckily, the technology has changed a lot since the late 80s!
A waterbed is ideal for someone who sleeps alone and wants as little pressure as possible against joints. If you have a partner, be certain you've tested the bed to sure it is comfy for both of you, lacking disruption (like this bed below) and ideal of nighttime sport (wink) as well as sleep.
Sleep Number Bed/Air Mattress Bed
When I became single again, I decided to pick a bed that would allow me and a future partner to have different levels of comfort. I got a queen-sized Sleep Number bed for $2000 (in 2010). It was expensive but had the bells and whistles of allowing you to change your evening comfort level.
It didn't take long for this Princess to feel the pea. The mattress's batting shifted making pits that I would roll into. If I inflated the bed to make up for the dip, it was very hard everywhere else. The thing about sleep number is it basically rises and deflates the same all over so you are either sinking and unsupported in your waist curve (side sleeper) or overinflated and your spine pushed into a curve. As well, it's a hot bed. Even with all the padding they sell you extra, it's miserably hot.
In the end, I took a knife to this glamorized air mattress.
NOTE: I am not putting up a link for a great sleep number bed because I am certain it does not exist.
Next, this princess attempted a memory foam bed as they were the rage and friends were cooing about them.
At first, I felt like I went into a deep sleep immediately, but over a week or two, I realized I was in a lot of pain and sweat in the morning. Even with padding to keep the hot mattress from overheating me, the foam structure (which feels great when you press it with your hand) becomes a hardened enemy that pushes against every bit of your flesh all night, making you feel like a bowling ball sinking into whipped cream.
If you roll over in your sleep, you're going to be in more pain because it takes monumental effort to roll over in memory foam as it holds your weight in a sunken position. You begin to roll over with your top half, but the bottom half hasn't moved yet unless you wake up enough to struggle. Otherwise, you wake up having one part of your body sleeping in one direction, the rest in another.
Hot, miserably unsupported, and smothered, the memory foam was almost as bad as the sleep number air mattress and the traditional waterbed.
If I were to advise on memory foam, consider a 2 or 4 inch topper on a traditional mattress. I have used one of those for years and it's a good combo. That 2-4 inches of memory foam is enough to sink a bit and get your curves supported, but then you are met with a mattress and its resistance, so you don't fall down into marshmallow land.
Hybrid mattresses are my second favorite!